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Less Impact Project 2012
Project Name : Less Impact Project 2012
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Wendy's Experiment: Operation Eat Mor Chikin

Though a myriad of people consider fast food on a daily basis, do they really know how much water it wastes for consumption? For our "Less Impact" project, we decided to find out how many people consider beef and/or chicken when going to a Wendy’s fast food restaurant on a Saturday afternoon. Our independent variable was the type of meat people ordered, and our dependent variable was the amount of water that goes into producing the meat. From one o’clock to three o’clock, we were patiently waiting and at the same time we were tallying up how much people chose an order that consisted of a beef product, or chicken product. The results came out to 53% of the customers ordering beef products, and 47% of customers ordering chicken products.

Federal regulations mandate new shower heads to flow less than 2.5 gallons per minute with a line feed pressure of eighty pounds per square inch (Howard). According to a study done by California Agriculture Extension, soil and water specialists, it takes 5,214 gallons of water to produce a pound of beef, while chicken on the other hand takes 815 gallons of water per pound (Nelson). Therefore, the amount of water consumption is more dangerous by producing both beef and chicken combined rather than attempting to not shower for a while. It is more beneficial for people to start switching to chicken products rather than beef products (Perlman).

In Santiago High School, there are around 3,800 students. By assuming that each student took one order, we calculated the approximate numbers of order for both beef and chicken. We then multiplied the number of orders of beef (2014) by the amount of beef in lbs per order (1/3) to calculate the amount of lbs of beef were used (671.3) . To find the amount of water required to supply the consumed beef, we would multiply 5,214 by the amount of beef used. This resulted to 3.5 million gallons of water. To calculate the amount of water that could have been saved by switching to chicken, we would multiply the numbers of orders (2014) by the weight of each order of chicken in lbs (2/3), equaling 1342.6 lbs of chicken. Then we would multiply that with the amount of water required per lb (815) to equal 1.1 million gallons of water. To find the difference in water usage, we would subtract 3.5 million from 1.1 million to find that about 2.4 million gallons of water could have been saved by the population of Santiago alone!
Calculations for the city of Corona and the United States follow the same format, Corona portraying a population of 152,000 people and the U.S. resembling a population of 330 million people. In the end, if the beef eaters of Corona had switched to chicken for just one meal, 9.6 million gallons of water could be saved. If all the hamburger-eaters of the United States ate chicken sandwiches for one meal, 200 million gallons of water would be conserved.

PROBLEM: Beef is one of the largest sources of water consumption. Rather than treating it like a luxury, Americans have come to eat beef daily in large amounts regardless of the environmental impact. If everyone in the United States were to eat chicken, the less consumptive food source, the amount of water saved would be beyond expectations.
HYPOTHESIS: As people order more beef products, the demand for water also increases.
METHODS: We will sit in a Wendy's restaurant for two hours and record the number of beef and chicken orders made during the time interval by listening and visually observing their orders. As far as materials, the only necessary things was a pencil and paper. Since the menu at Wendy's had exactly 16 products from both beef and chicken, this was the ideal restaurant to make observations at.
DATA: Within the two hours spent at Wendy's from one to three, there were 25 orders of beef and 22 orders of chicken products. Each order of beef averaged to an approximate of 1/3 lb and each order of chicken averaged about 2/3 lb per order. 

*observations made from 1-3pm.

*for every order of a chicken sandwich or chicken nuggets, you get 2/3 lb. For every order of a hamburger, you only get 1/3 lb.

From this study, we learned that a great deal of water can be conserved with one small choice. Not only is chicken healthier, cheaper, and more filling, but it is also environmentally affordable. By choosing to eat a chicken sandwich instead of an hamburger for just one meal, you are saving up to 1200 gallons of water. If everyone implemented these changes for even just one day, the amount of water saved would be phenomenal. This small adjustment would maximize the amount of water we could be saving while keeping our stomachs and wallets satisfied. Awareness about this implementation should be publicized in order to achieve a more environmentally efficient society that values the ecological benefits especially during this time of crisis.


Nelson, Jeff. 2010. ""How Much Water to Make One Pound of Meat?"

Howard, Jean. 2010. "Water Consumption."

Perlman, Howard, 2012, "How Much Water Does it Take To Grow a Hamburger?"
File Type File Name Attachment Description
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chicken v. beef 1
chicken v. beef 2
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